It’s time for some Epic Arcade Baseball Action! Probably the most boring team sport that has spawned from the minds of our American cousins also needs its digital equal. And of course, with any sports game that requires you to use a certain extension of your arm, you can expect some unique extras for the Wii-version. But a small reminder beforehand: my knowledge of baseball is very basic. Also I never was good at it (never wore my glasses at gym class). So the first question I asked myself, how much fun can this game give me? I came to the conclusion that it doesn’t matter. Better question is, what kind of fun can this game give to the fans of the sport? Let’s get to it!
First and foremost of course the controls. No timed button pushing here, that’s so last-gen. New-gen is about timed arm swinging and if possible, as hard as possible. There is a small problem that does occur then. Namely, you have to have the nunchuk plugged in to play the game and you’ll soon figure out that it isn’t ideal to be swinging around your arms. Especially when batting it can get annoying for a while. The game then doesn’t expect you to be holding the Wiimote like a real bat but more that you just swing it in some direction. It feels kind of artificial but necessary.
The pitching happens in a different artificial feel. You first need to press the A-button or B-button or both to fill a meter. Then swing downwards as fast as possible and release the button(s) with perfect timing. The speed of you swinging the Wiimote downwards determines the speed of the ball. Problem is that you need to do this so fast to get a perfect pitch, you will tear a muscle in your arm. A nice twist to the pitching, however, is that if you turn the Wiimote clockwise or counter clockwise you throw a different kind of ball. In total you can pummel your foes with 9 different kinds of shots
All in all, not so bad. But the real problems start after someone hits the ball. Unlike WiiSports, nothing happens automatic. You need to control the runners or the catchers. The runners are quite simple. Point the analog stick in the right direction and for extra speed shake the Wiimote fanatically up and down. It’s catching the ball that’s the real trick. For example, you can make your catcher jump but that requires you to push A, then move the Wiimote in the direction you wan to jump, then release A and only then will he jump. Unless if you have the reflexes of a cat, this will not work. The last step is in my view a very redundant step. When you have caught the ball, you need to get it to the home plate as fast as possible. This is done by waving the Wiimote in the direction you want to throw. This does usually work but sometimes the game doesn’t register it right, making you throw to the left when you were waving right. Very annoying.
The controls are a miss and a homerun at the same time. I do advise playing the game on Easy all the time until the moment the controls stick with you, only then try out medium or higher. The AI is good, real good, even on easy. Any mistake on your part can easily result in a homerun for the other team or your guy being out. If you like to play the single player of sports games and you’re a big fan of the sport, this is a good title for you. For the more party-oriented people, because that’s what sports games are really about without having to buy Mario Party or its offspring, there’s some great fun to have. Part of it is the arcade feel.
The game features a good dose of realism but the makers added some nice twists in it as well. Like the boost meter that goes up with every succeeded action or goes down with every failed action. Once full you can boost up your players to do a superpitch or a superbat. Fun assured! Also, it’s very nice to have four guys waving their arms around frantically, especially after a couple of drinks.
On a technical level there are some bad thing and some good things. One of the latter is the soundtrack which is very engaging and varied, practically worth buying the game just for that. The commentator is also very lively and not annoying at all! On the graphics department the game does look like a (considerably)beefed up PS2-game with very lifeless players. The stadiums are the best examples of this PS2-like look with the most ugly 3D-public you’ll ever see, constantly clapping in their hands like idiots. Why can’t everyone just do it right like in Mario Strikers Charged? On the other side, the interface is very clean and there are fireworks and some very doopy visual effects when you activate your power.
It is almost a certainty that the Wii is destined to become the sport games console, if the game makers put some real effort in it. The BIGS is a decent effort which needs some work here and there but it possesses a high challenge to anyone. Multiplayer is a potential party and the game does create a good atmosphere.